Dental implants might seem an obvious choice when a tooth is damaged, broken, or has been removed completely. It may surprise you to learn however, dental implants are not always the wisest choice.
Now, there’s no doubt dentistry is a wonderful profession for helping people. As someone who’s practised for over 35 years, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of restoring the function and form of many patients’ teeth. Whether through injury, illness, or not understanding the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene, it’s been truly satisfying to help people regain their smile, or to bite and chew with confidence again, by receiving the right care.
Because each person is unique, it’s necessary to tailor every restorative solution according to many factors. Thanks to advances in technologies and techniques, dental implants can work for many patients – but not all.
How do you know if dental implants are right for you? It’s a hot topic right now, and probably destined to be so for some time, particularly as patients search for solutions themselves. Honestly, it takes more than a Google search to find the answer to this question, so let’s look at five reasons why dental implants may not be right for you.
But the research says dental implants are good, Dr Mark
Look, I get it.
I’ve had plenty of patients who’ve come to me having done the research and are convinced, implants are the solution to their dental dramas. Not only have they researched the benefits of implants, they’ve found who will be kind and gentle with the treatment.
Having reached a point of frustration, they’ve determined all their teeth should be ‘ripped out’ and replaced with implants to create the beautiful smile they know is possible (at least that’s what the research says, right?).
Unfortunately, a good majority of these people have not visited a dentist in years. Another concerning fact is many of these people stayed away because of some horrific experiences, which scarred them for life and left them feeling fearful of dentists. Not surprisingly, patients like these bring a lot of emotion and built-up tension from their dental past, not ideal if you’re considering a significant restorative treatment.
Now helping people like this is what makes me go to work every day because I know it’s possible to move beyond the fear, have a smile you’re happy with, and even feel comfortable in the dental chair.
The notion that dental implants are the panacea for all situations however is unfounded. Sure, they’re a wonderful option in most cases, but they are not without limitations.
Here’s how to know if dental implants could be a solution for you
In order for a dental implant to be a long term success, we need to be able to tick a few boxes. Let’s look at those now.
#1 A dental implant needs somewhere to grow
I tell my patients an implant is like my wife planting a seedling. It needs enough soil depth (a metaphor for bone) and the soil (bone) needs to be of good quality. In simple terms, the bone needs to be strong enough to support the implant. If it isn’t, there’s a good chance the implants won’t be successful.
#2 A dental implant needs the right conditions to grow
Just like a seedling, an implant needs the right conditions to grow. It must be kept clean, and plaque and bacteria must be prevented from building up around the fixture. If you haven’t been consistent with your dental hygiene prior to treatment, this is one area that will need a significant mindset shift.
#3 Dental implants need to forge strong ‘roots’
Although the dental implant itself doesn’t ‘grow’ roots, we have to take care with the placement of crowns. Place it too soon and the implant may be damaged. Just like heavy winds or rain can destroy the growing plant, an implant needs time to strengthen in its environment, which is why a crown isn’t placed on an implant immediately as it would cause the implant to fall out. Dental implants require patience, so you definitely don’t want to rush the process.
#4 Dental implants are strong (but not indestructible!)
Some people have heavy bites; so heavy that they have ground their teeth down to nothing! This takes time and requires tremendous force. After all, enamel is the strongest component in the human body.
Now maybe you’re that person and think an “ALL ON FOUR” dental implant solution is for you. All-on-Four implants are used when all teeth are removed and replaced with four or six implants. Teeth are then placed on top of the implants to provide a full arch of teeth.
It might sound like the answer to a dental prayer, but consider this: Your normal teeth have a natural shock absorber built into them. This is called a ligament and it dissipates the high forces that occur when you bite.
By contrast, an implant is more like a steel post buried into concrete. There is absolutely NO give and certainly no ligament to dissipate force. Provide this solution to the person who grinds heavily and the bone around implants will disappear and the implants will move or come out. Perhaps not immediately, but certainly within five to ten years. If this occurs, there is no other dental solution for this person apart from dentures; a disappointing and unexpected outcome, and certainly not what they signed up for.
#5 Dental implants need a healthy environment
As with the plant we mentioned above, dental implants need a healthy environment. A young plant can’t be placed in full sun and be expected to thrive. In the same way, an implant is not the best choice for a person who smokes or has severe diabetes, for example. Implants do not thrive in this environment and can even fail. It’s not uncommon for a dental implant to ‘take’ initially and then fail a little way down the track because the environment wasn’t right.
To sum up: Of course, there are many situations where implants are the very best answer, however all the conditions need to be right and the only way to know is to speak with a dentist who understands your specific circumstances. When considering restoring your teeth back to normal, or better than normal, it’s also wise to consider all your options. You may even be surprised to learn the best solution is not dental implants.
Curious and want to know more? We can help. The very best way to understand your options for restorative solutions is to speak with a caring dentist like Dr Mark Miller, who has your best health as their highest priority.
At Dental as Anything, a Gold Coast Dentist in the area of Helensvale, Southport, Oxenford, Hope Island, Pacific Pines, Coomera and Upper Coomera, we work with patients who feel anxious and concerned about dental implants and want to understand if they could be a solution for them. If you’re ready to explore your options, we can discuss these with you so the benefits and drawbacks of each are understood, and you can make an informed choice. Ready now? Call (07) 5573-0188 or email us on email@example.com